COVID Struck, Students Stuck


Genieva Pawlowski

Nonnewaug’s Seniors Katrina Fisher and Rachael Garge working towards their SAE hour goal at Hidden Acres Therapeutic Riding Center.

Genieva Pawlowski, Reporter

Half Empty/Half Full

WOODBURY – Nonnewaug decided to transition to hybrid learning in 2020 (half the class at home virtual learning, and half in the classroom.) Supervised agricultural experience, a core part of the agri-science curriculum, was exceptionally difficult to find and secure during this time. 

We really didn’t know how this was all going to turn out with businesses closing and people not feeling comfortable going out,” said Thomas Dimarco, an agriscience teacher at Nonnewaug. “As a department we made the decision to reduce the number of hours required for students with their SAE from 200 to 100.” 

While it was hard to find an SAE, many opportunities were offered to help. Such as, home SAEs. Some of the things students were doing at home were gardening, house work, and livestock care. 

Michael Lavoie, a fellow Agriscience teacher said, “Some students started selling plants, managing veggie gardens, coming up with plans for these operations, and even lawn mowing.” 

There were many options to meet the 100 hour mark for SAE. Dimarco explains, “For the 2021-2022 school year we brought the SAE requirement back up to 200.” 

I need to use my hands!

  Agriscience students at Nonnewaug High School have struggled quite a bit due to the pandemic. Many students believe that they have lost the ‘touch of Nonnewaug’ due to the lack of hands-on experiences students were excited for coming into freshman year.  

Nonnewaug senior Aurora Proulx explains, “It was hard to learn while we were online because we were not receiving hands-on experience.” She also states, “When the in-person classes were ready to go outside we were told to leave the [Google] Meet.” 

Day to day classes were much different and hard for the teachers as well as Mrs. Bedron states. “A Lot of information is accessible [online] and able to be turned in on Google Classroom now. I missed having lab time for hands-on learning.” 

While everything can be turned into one place, it became a mess for many of the students because staying on top of their work was difficult. Many students changed their career paths because the classes became un-interesting. Mr Lavoie agrees, “in some cases it hindered some of the student areas of interest.” 

Stress or Relief?

  A debate broke out between conducting interviews on whether it is a relief or stressful for students now that we are back to in-school learning after being hybrid for so long. 

  Some students are stressed because during the big outbreak, there was less work, less expected of students, and they were also in the comfort of their own homes. Leah Quijano states, “Grading was more lenient as well, classes are now more stressful because of the workload that is asked of students.” 

  While Olivia Graffam says that being online was more stressful than in-person learning. “I hated the Google Meets, it was difficult to interact with the classes and teachers, I feel less stressed now that we are back to in-person learning.”

  Aurora Prolux takes an ambivalent stance on the matter saying not much has changed since the start of the pandemic to now. “Classes felt easier because there was not a bunch of work given to us because it was new [content].” 

Hide your Noses…

  Wearing masks for seven hours has been a difficult task for students and teachers to accomplish. To make this problem easier we have scheduled mask breaks throughout the day where students can walk around the school or simply stand outside. Even with these breaks some teachers have to remind students that the pandemic is still happening and to keep their masks on, over their noses. 

  Mrs Bedron states “a lot of students are very respectful of the mask and occasionally need reminders.” 

  Keeping the masks on has become an issue in another department however according to Mr. Lavoie. “Masks have become a problem for me because I cannot identify students.” Tricky is an understatement for this issue as teachers need to be able to tell which student is who. Teachers see hundreds of students every day and have to remember their names and the masks make this harder for them. Lavoie does agree with Bedron about the masks however, “reminders needed to make sure they wear them over their noses.”

FFA Credit Issues

  FFA credit are hard to get during a regular school year especially if your schedule is busy, it was even worse with the pandemic. There were less and less FFA events due to the pandemic this year/last year. 

  You need at least 4 FFA credits a year, one for each quarter. A lot of kids such as myself have trouble even getting 3 throughout the year because some events are at night after school or during the weekend when most kids who are in Ag are already working towards their SAE hours, which is ALSO a requirement. 

  Leah Quijano states “There aren’t many FFA events that take place at school. It’s hard to get rides home because I am out of the district.” 

  Being an Ag student out of district puts a lot of stress on the students because they might not always have rides like Leah states. Weekend events are offered but with a busy schedule sometimes those days and times cannot be met as well. Overall the student believe they should have more opportunities to meet this requirement.